Monday, December 23, 2013

Audience picks NAVIGATORS for Jan 3rd

Thank you to everyone who participated in our poll for which film to show this January. The winner is.....*drumroll*.......The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific!

Although we know this time of year is incredibly busy, we hope you will make the time to celebrate a New Year of FREE films with us on Friday, January 3rd at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park to view this wonderful film. 

Over 1,000 years ago, the Pacific islands were explored and settled by navigators who used only the waves, the stars, and the flights of birds for guidance. In hand-built, double-hulled canoes sixty feet long, the ancestors of today's residents sailed across a vast ocean area, larger than Europe and North America combined.

To explore this ancient navigational heritage, anthropologist/filmmaker Sanford Low visited the tiny coral atoll of Satawal in Micronesia's remote Caroline Islands. The Navigators reveals the subtleties of this sea science, transmitted in part through a ceremony known as "unfolding the mat," in which 32 lumps of coral are arranged in a circle to represent the points of the "star compass." To master the lore of navigation was to attain great status in traditional Micronesian society.

We are grateful to the National Park Service, the Humanities Council, the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, and the Division of Environmental Quality for making this event possible. As always, FirstFriday Films is free and open to the public. Run time for this film is 60 minutes.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

December 6th film celebrates GREEN through the ages

First Friday Films would like to announce the FREE SHOWING of our December film:

A Fierce Green Fire
Friday, December 6th 
American Memorial Park.

A Fierce Green Fire is an amazing take on the history of the environmental movement over the last fifty years – from the beginning of conservation to modern times. The film shows footage of conservation of the Grand Canyon in the 60s, the Love Canal battle of the 70s, Greenpeace’s controversial campaigns, the 80s crisis to save the Amazon, and the current conversation about climate change. Each act of the film sheds new light on the most famous environmental battles of the last century, and it is a must-see for anyone who studies, works or plays in the environment.

Before the film, Dr. Peter Peshut will introduce the events in the film by sharing his experiences living and working in the environmental field through each of these decades. Dr. Peshut has earned degrees in civil engineering, marine biology and environmental science and has worked for nearly 30 years on environmental issues in both the government and private sectors. Nineteen of those years have been spent in the Pacific Islands, including American Samoa, Palau, FSM, Hawaii, Guam and the CNMI.

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations and individuals.  This particular film is sponsored by DEQ. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 2 hours.

Friday, November 15, 2013

APASEEM Annual Conference November 19-21 at AMP

On behalf of the Asia Pacific Academy of Sciences, Science Education, and Environmental Management, we would like to let the public know of the annual conference taking place on November 19-21, from 5-8pm each day at American Memorial Park's theatre. The talks are free and open to the public. Please refer to the schedule below to find topics that interest you.

Conference Day One, Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Presenter: Mr. Robbie Greene
Affiliation:  NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship Program, CNMI Coastal Resources Management Office
Title: "Filling up the Bathtub: Using Elevation Models to Communicate the Impacts of Local Sea Level Changes in
                the CNMI"
In January 2013, over 200 scientists, resource managers and academic researchers from Pacific island nations and territories met in Suva, Fiji to discuss the state of climate information services in the region. From this discussion, a need emerged for novel services that could communicate complex climate science to broader audiences. A few creative folks referred to this service as climate translation: a way to transfer concepts and scientific information across a spectrum of researchers, policy-makers, and community members. This presentation highlights the development of CNMI-specific sea level rise maps as a meaningful first step toward local climate translation. High-resolution elevation data were used to map the potential extent of coastal flooding on Saipan due to changes in sea level. A number of empirically supported sea level scenarios were explored, including observed short-term rise due to typhoons and El-Nino events, as well as long-term rise in response to climate change projections. Visualizations of these scenarios are presented, and impacts to Saipan’s social and natural systems are discussed.

Presenter: Dr. Edgar Tudor, DVM
Affiliation: Paradise Animal Hospital
Contact email:
Title: "Discovery of and Details Regarding a New Species to Science, a Cat Earworm"
Note: To include some film footage. Exact title and abstract to be provided.

Presenter(s): Aaron Sanders and Daniel Gubler, Ph.D.
Affiliation: Brigham Young University-Hawaii, 55-220 Kulanui Street #1967, Laie, Hawaii 96762, USA
Contact email:
Title: "Active Compounds in the Medicinal Plants: Cuscuta sandwichiana and Scaevola taccada"
The parasitic vine Cuscuta sandwichiana is an endemic Hawaiian plant that was used in traditional Hawaiian medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Scaevola taccada is a flowering beach plant found typically in the Indo-Pacific region. This plant has been used as a source of traditional medicine in a vast number of cultures. Previous to this study neither C. sandwichiana nor the berries of S. taccada had not been analyzed for their organic compound makeup. Through the use of Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectroscopy this study identified multiple organic compounds in C. sandwichiana and in the S. taccada berries that validate their uses in traditional medicine.

Presenter(s): Erin Hoff, Roger Goodwill, David Bybee
Affiliation: BYU-H Biological Sciences Department
Contact email:
Title: "Distribution and Abundance of Sabellid Polychaetes on the Kahuku Reef Flat, O’ahu Hawai’i"
Sabellid distribution and abundance on algae from the Kahuku reef flat (21°41’2.89”N and 157°56’40.74”W) was studied from April 2013 to October 2013. Distribution and abundance was measured using two 30 m transects which were subdivided into numbered 0.1 m2 quadrats. Transects were located on the center of the reef, which represented the most algal cover, and were designed to cover high and low intertidal zones. Transect A was located 15 m from shore, and transect B was located 23 m from shore. A random number table was used to select specific quadrats which determined the infauna sample sites. Sampling was conducted twice each month during low tide, once on transect A and once on transect B. Samples were collected from ten quadrats on each transect, stored in aerated containers of salt water, and sorted using a dissection light microscope. Individual sabellids, either inside or outside of tubes, were teased out of algal samples with microscopic forceps. Preliminary results suggest at least one new species has been found, Amphicorina sp. Evidence suggests that different sabellid species may be actively selecting specific algae for settlement. Initial observations also indicate that the reproductive mode of at least one species, Amphicorina sp, is a tube brooder with several different larval stages confirmed so far.

Presenter: Denton, Dr. Gary R.W. Ph.D.
Affiliation: Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific, University of Guam, UOG Station,
                                Mangilao, Guam 96923, USA
Contact email:
Title: “Metal Deficiencies and Imbalances in Wetland Plants from a Manganese-Enriched Wetland in Southern
                Guam: A Possible Lytico-Bodig Connection?”
Trace metal levels were determined in surface waters, soil, soil pore-waters and three species of dominant plants from a small perennial wetland in southern Guam. The wetland is unusual in that has formed in an area that is geologically enriched with pyrolusite, a manganese bearing ore found primarily in fractures and fissures of the highly weathered and sparsely vegetated saprolite rocks that dominate the surrounding upland terrain. Over time, erosional processes have mobilized significant quantities of upland soil and fragmented pyrolusite into the wetland below where reducing conditions have favored the liberation of soluble Mn2+ from ore remnants. Manganese levels in surface waters draining the wetland were at least an order of magnitude higher than those found in other Guam rivers and streams draining watersheds without wetlands, while those in sediment pore-waters were up to three orders of magnitude higher. Despite adequate soluble supplies of essential trace elements in the wetland soil and soil pore-waters, the metal status of the common sedge, Fimbristylis tristachya, was suggestive of deficiencies in iron, copper and zinc. In contrast, manganese concentrations in this species and in the climbing fern, Lygodium microphyllum, sometimes approached levels considered phytotoxic to most other plants. Extremely high concentrations of manganese were encountered in foliar tips of the monocot tree, Pandanus tectorius, with values exceeding 10,000 μg/g dry weight in some wetland representatives. P. tectorius is a savannah species that has adapted to wetland conditions and its ability to tolerate high levels of soluble manganese in the study area has undoubtedly helped facilitate its survival in this environment. However, the fact that upland specimens share the same capability suggests this mechanism evolved in response to selection pressures other than those associated with waterlogged soil. Historically, dried Pandanus leaves were used extensively as a source of domestic fiber in the local Chamorro culture. A possible link between the use of this plant and a neurodegenerative disease complex that is symptomatically similar to the occupational disease ‘manganism’ and once plagued the island is discussed. This mysterious ailment, locally known as ‘Lytico-Bodig’ appears only in native Chamorro people and is reputed to have once accounted for the deaths of one person in five over the age of 25. Today, Lytico-Bodig has all but disappeared from Guam, which has led to speculation that the diseases may have been linked to an environmental factor that is no longer threatening.

Conference Day Two, Wednesday, November 20, 2013-Mini Symposium Fisheries
Presenter: Gourley, Mr. John.
Affiliation: Marianas Conservation
Email contact:
Title: "If Size Matter, Why Doesn’t Science?  A Review of the Science Behind the “Size Matters” Campaign."

The “Size Matters” campaign has been an ongoing voluntary fisheries management campaign since early 2011. The campaign has produced a measurement guide and poster that identifies sizes of various species of reef fish that represents the size when 50% of the species has reached reproductive state; called the L50.  The campaign objective is to educate island fishermen to voluntarily catch and retain fish that are greater than the stated L50 and release any fish that are smaller.

A critique of the science supporting this fisheries campaign was conducted. Various aspects of the campaign, such as source of the L50 sizes, a review of the literature supporting the L50 sizes and the approach of using the L50 as a fishery management measure was investigated for its relevancy.

Presenter(s): Dunn, Mr. Trey.
Affiliation(s): CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries Section
Contact email:
Title: "DFW's Life History Work on the Red-Lipped Parrotfish Scarus rubroviolaceus"
The CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife has a long running fish life history program that seeks to gain specific life history characteristics for important fish species in the CNMI. This information is critical for making management decisions. DFW has recently been shifting focus of the program solely to reef fishes that are most commonly fished. One of the most common and readily targeted parrotfish in the CNMI is the Red-Lipped Parrotfish Scarus rubroviolaceus. Over the past two and a half years, DFW has been sampling this fish and taking life history information. The results from this work will be presented.

Presenter: Gourley, Mr. John.
Affiliation: Micronesian Environmental Services
Email contact:
Title: "Is the Condition of Saipan’s Reef Fish Better or Worse Since 2009? A  Comparison of the 2009 PMRI market
                study and the 2011-2013 Bio-Sampling market study"
Pacific Marine Resources Institute (PMRI) conducted a 4-month market survey of Saipan landed reef fish during 2009 and 2010.  Over the past 3 years, the results have been widely disseminated in the public arena as an informational brochure, grey-literature report, peer-reviewed paper, numerous presentations, several newspaper articles, and the unilateral development of commercial size regulations for reef fish. The message being broadcasted was that that most of the Saipan commercial reef fish were being caught before they have a chance to reproduce and that SCUBA assisted spearfishing activities are supplying most of the fish for the Saipan market.

A NOAA-PIFSC funded fishery bio-sampling program was initiated late 2010 with market sampling starting in January 2011.  Sampling the same Saipan-based vendors that PMRI surveyed the previous year, the bio-sampling program collected fish size data, as well as catch effort and location data, over a 33 month period. 

Results from the PMRI market study are compared with results of the Bio-Sampling study in an attempt to distinguish any changes that may have occurred since the PMRI study was conducted.

Presenter: Trianni, Mr. Michael.
Affiliation: N/A
Contact email:
Title(s): "A historical review of research and management of reef fisheries in the CNMI"
Research and management of reef fisheries are presented along a historical timeline, noting various actions implemented by the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife through 2010. The rationale and process of managing reef fisheries in the CNMI, particularly Saipan, has often been challenging, and solely aimed at providing a sustainable resource for present and future generations.

Conference Day Three, Thursday, November 21, 2013

Presenter(s): Zachary Rupp and Daniel Gubler, Ph.D.
Affiliation: Brigham Young University-Hawaii, 55-220 Kulanui Street #1967, Laie, Hawaii 96762, USA
Title: "Determining the Chemical Signatures of Emotional States"
In this project we are looking to find and study human pheromones in the form of volatile organic compounds. A large part of this project involves working with a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer in order to analyze the compounds that are given off by participants during testing. Our current testing involves evoking certain emotions in participants, to see if in the process they give off any chemicals that could be correlated with the desired emotion. For example among certain organisms, when in danger, they give off an alarm pheromone to make their fellow organisms aware of the threat. We are testing to see if humans do something similar, that is, using chemosignaling in some way to communicate to those around them. This presentation will discuss a class of small molecules that may act as alarm pheromones in humans.

Presenter(s): Ryan Okano, Ph.D.
Affiliation: CNMI Division of Environmental Quality
Contact email:
Title: "The Influence of Water Quality and Herbivory on Algal Communities within Laolao Bay"

Water quality and herbivory are considered to be primary factors that influence tropical algal communities.  Water quality parameters in particular nutrients can fuel algal growth and result in the proliferation of weedy species.  Herbivores are known to feed on algae, limiting the growth and presence of algal species.  The recent Laolao Bay Watershed Restoration Project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided the Marine Monitoring Team with a unique coastal data set.  Water quality constituents considered are salinity, pH, turbidity, and nutrients.  Biological data considered are algal diversity quadrats and food fish stationary point counts.  The influence of water quality on algal communities is demonstrated on the reef flat, while data suggest a relationship between algal and fish communities on the reef slope.

Presenter(s): Frank Villagomez
Affiliation: CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife
Title: "Fish Aggregating Devices in the CNMI"
Abstract: To be provided

Presenter(s): Dr. Angel Yanagihara, Ph.D.
Affiliation: University of Hawaii
Contact email:
Title: "Box Jellyfish: Field Ecology, Envenomation and Treatment of Stings"

Abstract: To be provided

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Chasing Ice" film shown FREE, Nov 1st

First Friday Films would like to invite the public to a special free showing of the film Chasing Ice on Friday, November 1st, at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park. Previously shown at the White House on Earth Day this year, this film features amazing footage of camera crews going up cliffs and onto icebergs to document changes in our planet.

Chasing Ice is a story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. In the mid-2000s, James Balog, an environmental photographer, deployed time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to capture multi-year records of changing glaciers. Although Saipan is far from the polar ice caps and doesn't experience glaciers or blizzards, anyone can appreciate the footage shot by a camera crew that is climbing ice-covered mountains, braving extreme winds and witnessing mile-wide glaciers collapsing before their eyes. You will not want to miss this film – the perfect way to welcome the island “winter” season!

Before the film, Robbie Greene will speak about climate change work that is happening on Saipan, including measurements of sea level rise and coastal flooding. Robbie Greene is a NOAA Coastal Fellow at the CNMI Coastal Resources Management Office.

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations and individuals.  This particular film is sponsored by a friend of FFF. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 90 minutes. 

American Memorial Park reopened, FFF continues in November

Hafa Adai Film Supporters,

As I'm sure you have heard, the end of the government shutdown has allowed for the re-opening of American Memorial Park, and therefore First Friday Films will plan to continue as regularly scheduled on Friday, November 1st.

We appreciate everyone who inquired about a possible rescheduling of the film Tapped after the cancellation on October 4th. Due to pre-scheduled speakers and the limited availability of other films, we are going to continue with our planned film line-up for the rest of the year and skip over Tapped for now. However, this film is still in our library and will be shown as a First Friday Film on the next available date, hopefully sometime in early 2014. Until then, please stay tuned for announcements about our other scheduled events.

Thanks, as always, for your support!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Film today canceled

Our apologies for the late notice, but due to the federal government shutdown, American Memorial Park will be closed today and therefore we have to cancel First Friday Films tonight. We hope to reschedule "Tapped" for a later date and will post here when it is rescheduled. Thank you for your continued support. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New film "Tapped" discusses bottled water, trash

First Friday Films is presenting the new film "Tapped" on Friday, October 4th at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park about bottled water, why we love it, and why we shouldn't love it.

The film asks, “Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce?” The documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of the bottled water industry -- an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water. “Tapped” is a portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, from the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up.

Before the film, Mr. Jose M. Kaipat from the Division of Environmental Quality’s Safe Drinking Water Branch will give a brief presentation about drinking water and bottle usage on Saipan. Mr. Kaipat has been at DEQ for 18 years in various capacities and can speak first-hand about the regulations and concerns about drinking water sources in the CNMI. As the chief coordinator of DEQ’s Monthly Clean-up Brigade, Kaipat also knows the damaging environmental impacts of our beverage containers after the drinks are consumed.
First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations and individuals. These films are sponsored by the Division of Environmental Quality. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 75 minutes.

For more information about First Friday Films, email

Monday, August 26, 2013

September 6th: 4 films, 4 stories, 4 cameras focused on our coasts!

First Friday Films will be showing four short environmental films on Friday, September 6th at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park in coordination with Coastal Month to celebrate our coasts and the resources that they provide.

The four films being presented are from the Centre for Science Communication in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. First will be “Bluffed”, a 2006 film by Katie McSweeney about fishermen taking a stand to save their livelihood and a national icon – the bluffed oyster. Next, “Beyond the Kelp” by Amy Taylor and Rohan Currey (2005) takes us to the shores to find Hector’s dolphins and see how these amazing animals connect with the people of New Zealand. Third will be “Titans of the Coral Sea,” a film by Jordan Plotsky (2008) examining what happens when a fishing village lets the modern world in and their ancient ways become lost along with their livelihood.

The 2011 film “Tangled Waters” will be the evening's finale, directed by Saipan resident, Nicole Schafer, and Andrew Scott. Their 2011 film will let the audience jump in and wind their way through a comedic journey of shakrs, surf and local politics to discover how a small community brought an end to a forty-year practice. After the film, director Nicole Schafer will be available for a Q&A session.

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations. These films are sponsored by Coastal Resources Management. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 90 minutes.

For more information about First Friday Films, email

Monday, August 12, 2013

Visiting researcher presents on Megapodes this Thursday 8/15

First Friday Film viewers might be interested in this upcoming talk entitled "Megapodes: their Distribution, Evolution and Conservation" hosted by APASEEM this Thursday, August 15th at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park.

The Asia Pacific Academy of Sciences, Science Education, and Environmental Management (APASEEM) will host a science-focused public presentation on the avian family Megapodiidae, or megapodes, Thursday, August 15th at the American Memorial Park auditorium, Saipan.  Time is from 6:30 to 8pm.  Everyone is invited to attend and learn about this unique family of birds, one species of which (the Micronesian Megapode) occurs in the Marianas.  The presenter, Dr. René Dekker, is a world authority on megapodes and Director of Collections at the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Dr. Dekker has been involved in megapode conservation and research since 1985, when he was appointed project leader for the conservation of the Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) in Sulawesi, Indonesia, where he lived and worked for 18 months.  Since this time he has been involved with various megapode studies and has served on advisory committees for megapode conservation.  Dr. Dekker has also acted as chairman of the IUCN/SSC/WPA Megapode Specialist Group for 22 years.  With his Australian colleague Darryl Jones he has published a book on megapodes for Oxford University Press, wrote IUCN/SSC conservation plans, and published multiple articles on the evolution and breeding strategy of megapodes.  During his work, Dr. Dekker has visited many places to study megapodes, often on remote islands such as the Nicobars (India), Niuafo'ou (Tonga) and Waigeo (Papua).
Megapodes are unique among birds because of their aberrant breeding strategy that utilizes heat from decomposition, geothermal activity, or radiant energy from the sun to incubate their eggs. Such a strategy, however, puts their large, yolk-rich eggs at risk of being harvested and consumed by humans in many parts of their range.  This has led to the decline of many species, some of which are considered endangered according to IUCN criteria.  Megapodes occurred on numerous South Pacific islands in the not so distant past but many were exterminated by early settling Polynesians.  Like the flightless rails that also occurred on many of these same islands, at least 20 species of megapode have become extinct; only 22 species remain.  Dr. Dekker’s presentation will illustrate and describe the variety of megapode species and delve into many aspects and explanations of their distribution, behaviour, evolution, and conservation.  As at all APASEEM talks, questions from the audience are strongly encouraged.  For more information visit the website or write to them via

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Return of the Cuyahoga" this Friday

First Friday Films will premier Return of the Cuyahoga this Friday, August 2nd at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park in recognition of environmental success stories.

For centuries, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio has been the mainland United States’ frontier. When the United States was a new nation, the river literally marked the western frontier. But "civilization" came to the river; by 1870 the river was on the industrial frontier. On the river's banks sprouted a multitude of factories, a booming display of what was called progress. The river, as it flowed through Cleveland, became a foul-smelling channel of sludge, with an oily surface that ignited with such regularity that river fires were treated as commonplace events by the local press.

But then, in 1969, the river burned again, just as a third kind of frontier swept across the nation: an environmental frontier. And the Cuyahoga River became a landmark on this frontier too -- a poster child for those trying to undo the destruction wrought by progress in America. This film marks the path that the river has taken over the years.

Before the film, representatives from the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality will discuss several environmental disasters on our own islands which are becoming success stories of rehabilitation partnerships between local, national and international partners.

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations. This particular film is sponsored by DEQ. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 70 minutes.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cetacean talk this Thursday, 6:30 at AMP

Check out another APASEEM talk this week focusing on whales and dolphins:

"Findings from Acoustic and Visual Surveys of Cetaceans in the Northern Mariana Islands"

                The Asia Pacific Academy of Sciences, Science Education, and Environmental Management (APASEEM) will host a science-focused public gathering on local whales and dolphins next Thursday, July 18th at the American Memorial Park auditorium, Saipan. Time is from 6:30 to 8pm. Everyone is invited to attend and learn about our region's various species of marine mammals from Dr. Erin Oleson, lead scientist for the Cetacean Research Program at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu.

                Dr. Oleson oversees the program’s mission to assess the abundance and status, including potential human-caused impacts, for all whale and dolphin (cetacean) populations within the Pacific Islands Region, including those near Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Erin’s research focuses on developing new passive acoustic technology to monitor the occurrence and behavior of whales and dolphins in remote regions or in situations where traditional visual methods are ineffective. In 2011 Erin was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her work to bring new innovative technological solutions to fill critical data gaps in cetacean science in the Pacific Region. Research within the Cetacean Program focuses on pairing traditional survey techniques, including ship-based and small boat surveys for cetaceans, with new technologies, such as long-term acoustic recorders, animal-carried tags, and development of new autonomous sensors to develop new techniques for assessing cetacean populations. A copy of her PowerPoint slides from last year's talk is posted on the APASEEM website listed below.

                With support from the U.S. Navy, the Cetacean Program has been conducting small boat surveys from Guam, Rota, and Saipan since 2010. To date these surveys have documented 20 species of cetaceans in the waters of the Marianas Archipelago, a figure which doubles the number which was known just two years ago. In addition, two long-term acoustic recorders have been deployed near Saipan and Tinian to monitor the presence of cetaceans year-round for comparison with these vessel surveys. Erin’s presentation will discuss some of the Program’s findings from the recent surveys and acoustic research in the Marianas. One year and five months of data available so far indicate the presence of several dolphin species, Bryde’s, humpback, and fin whales, at least three species of beaked whale, along with possible new species detected by this year's acoustical probes. As at all APASEEM talks, questions from the audience are strongly encouraged. For more information visit the website or write to us via

Friday, June 14, 2013

Underwater films and jellyfish!

We are continuing to celebrate oceans this month on Saipan with a few more activities that you should know about...

First, there is a great new series of underwater videos showing for FREE on youtube. Check out Craig Musburger's fantastic footage in his series of UnderH2O shorts here: Craig is the videographer who filmed our very own Laolao Bay documentary that was debuted at First Friday Films last November. 

We'd also like to pass along a message from APASEEM about a "The Science of the Sting" -- a talk about field ecology and the venoms of box jellyfish that will be held at American Memorial Park next Wednesday, June 19th from 6:30-7:30pm (see more information below).

We hope you can make it to the event!

The Science of the Sting

Field Ecology and Venoms of Box Jellyfish

Have you ever been stung by a jellyfish? Are there highly poisonous box jellyfish in our local waters? If they are attracted to lights, can some jellyfish see? Are they present even in the daytime? Want to find out more about these fascinating marine animals?

This coming Wednesday the Asia Pacific Academy of Sciences, Science Education, and Environmental Management (APASEEM) will host a public presentation at the American Memorial Park auditorium by a visiting scientist currently conducting box jellyfish research in our local waters. Time: 6:30 to 7:30/8pm. Date, Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

Cubozoans or box jellyfish are the most specialized class in the Cnidaria phylum, a phylum (group) that also includes sea anemones and corals. Dr. Angel Yanagihara, a research professor at the University of Hawaii, has been characterizing the field ecology, reproductive biology and venom biochemistry of multiple box jellyfish species in Hawaiian waters since 1997.

Reports of box jellyfish in the Caribbean waters off Bonaire, Netherlands (former Dutch Antilles) recently led her to conduct field research there and she brought some film footage to share. As part of a global phylogeography effort she is currently investigating local box jellyfish species in the waters off Saipan. Dr. Yanagihara will present an overview of her research. Interested members of the public are invited, and, as at all APASEEM meetings, questions from everyone is strongly encouraged.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Celebrate oceans, surfing and clean water this Friday

FFF has another exciting NEW film for you this coming Friday, June 7th at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park. We will be showing Keepers of the Coast in celebration of World Oceans Day (June 8) and International Surfing Day (June 21).

Every year beaches are closed due to pollution. Millions of dollars in tourism and related industries can be lost from beach closings, in addition to the devastating impact that polluted beaches can have on subsistence fishing, income, health and recreation. Surfers all over the world are realizing the importance in monitoring and preventing pollution on the beaches. When our coastline is polluted, surfers take it on the skin, in their eyes and ears, and even in their guts.

Since the making of this film in 1996, surfers have been organizing world-wide: testing water quality, funding research on wetland restoration, and educating the public in schools and communities. This film takes us back to the 1990s to show us what the beaches looked like then and what ocean enthusiasts decided to do about it. To bring us back to the present, Clarissa Bearden from the DEQ Water Quality branch will speak before the film about the CNMI’s beach monitoring program.

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations. This particular film is sponsored by DEQ. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 60 minutes. 

This June marks three years of First Friday Films providing free monthly documentaries to the public to keep you entertained and educated on issues related to our environment. A big THANK YOU to our viewers for supporting the program and coming back month after month. :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NEW FILM about nutrition and the environment

First Friday Films would like to invite you to a showing of PLANEAT this Friday, May 3rd at 6:30pm at American Memorial Park’s theatre.

PLANEAT is the story of three men's life-long search for a diet which is good for our health, good for the environment and good for the future of the planet. With an additional cast of pioneering chefs and some of the best cooking you have ever seen, the scientists and doctors in the film present a convincing case for the West to re-examine its love affair with meat and dairy. The film features the ground-breaking work of Dr. T Colin Campbell in China exploring the link between diet and disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's use of diet to treat heart disease patients, and Professor Gidon Eshel's investigations into how our food choices contribute to global warming, land use and oceanic deadzones. With the help of some innovative farmers and chefs, PLANEAT shows how the problems we face today can be solved, without simply resorting to a diet of lentils and lettuce leaves.

Before the film, Kate Campbell, a dietitian on Saipan, will talk about building our own healthy diets. You can check out her blog at

First Friday Films is a partnership between American Memorial Park, the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and the Humanities Council with support from other organizations. This film is sponsored by DEQ. As always, our film events are free and open to the public. This event will run about 70 minutes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Events at AMP this Thursday and Friday

On Thursday, May 2nd at 4:15pm, the Mariana Avifauna Conservation Project will be conducting a presentation on their bird conservation efforts in the CNMI. The public is invited to attend, see details below.

And of course, May's First Friday Film will be May 3rd at 6:30pm. Please join us for Planeat, a film about nutrition and diets that are good for your health and may be good for the environment. More details to come.

Upcoming Presentation on Mariana Islands Birdlife:
The mid-1980s saw the brown tree-snake either extirpate or drive to extinction nine of 12 species of forest bird on Guam.  Almost 20 years later the U.S. Department of the Interior determined that Saipan may support an “incipient” population of this serious invasive predator.  In 2005 the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) determined that preemptive action was necessary for the CNMI’s birdlife to avoid the fate that befell Guam – thus, the Mariana Avifauna Conservation (MAC) Project became a reality.

The MAC Project’s endeavors are two-fold; 1) the maintenance of captive populations (which serve as genetic reserves) of the CNMI’s native and endemic forest bird species at AZA affiliated institutions on the U.S. Mainland, and 2) the establishment of satellite populations of these bird species on islands in the Mariana archipelago deemed safe from brown tree-snakes.  Captive breeding programs at participating zoos on the U.S. mainland have thus far experienced success with the Mariana Fruit Dove, the White-throated Ground Dove, and the Golden White-eye.  Likewise, satellite populations of Bridled White-eyes, Golden White-eyes, and Mariana Fruit Doves have successfully been established on Sarigan via a program of conservation introduction.  In both endeavors, however, there is more work ahead of the MAC Project.

In April and May of this year 16 staff members from 10 AZA affiliated zoos and conservation organizations will join DFW on Saipan to execute the eighth year of the MAC Project’s annual field efforts.  This year’s focus will be the translocation of Mariana Fruit Doves and Rufous Fantails from Saipan to Sarigan, and the addition of fantails and Bridled White-eyes to captive programs at zoos in the States.  

Presenting on this topic will be CNMI Ornithologist Mr. Paul Radley, together with visiting scientists Mr. Herb Roberts of the Memphis Zoo, and Ms. Ellen Gorrell of the Toledo Zoo. Additional program information is available by visiting the Facebook page Ms. Gorrell maintains via For more information about APASEEM, please visit our website at

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Three short films about marine protected areas

In celebration of Environmental Awareness Month, we wanted to pass along these three short films about marine protected areas in the Pacific region from the Ocean Health Index Film Festival. Check them out!

Don't forget to check for information on upcoming activities, including:

April 13, 8am -- Bird Hike and Invasive Species Removal at Bonzai Trail

April 19, 6pm -- Deadline for the OurLaolao Photo Contest (on facebook)

April 20, 9am -- Coral Watch Dive at Laolao Bay

April 20, 12pm -- Recycled Boat Race at Kilili Beach

We hope to see you at some of these events!